2 Jul 2003

Solomons opposition MP queries how force will be deployed

6:38 am on 2 July 2003

A Solomon Islands opposition MP says he will support changes to the constitution to allow an armed intervention force in the country but he wants to know how it will be deployed.

Simeon Bouro, the MP for East Honiara, says other MPs also want to know how the Australian-led force will operate before a vote is taken next week on the changes.

Mr Bouro also says it may have to be in Solomon Islands for between two to three years because crime has become institutionalised.

"I think the intervention is inevitable but its the mechanisms how and the rules of how they play the game, that is what we are going to discuss in parliament. That's the crucial point is, if they play by the rules that is set by parliament, I think it should be okay, but if it is something that's alien , that is where the question is"

Mr Bouro says he and other MPs would like to see the Solomon Islands police commissioner, Bill Morrell, be the supreme leader of the force.

And, he says any military operation that's undertaken should be sanctioned by parliament first.

Mr Bouro says he is yet to see the proposed legislative changes to the constitution.

Meanwhile, there are calls for major constraints be placed on what the intervention team can do in Solomon Islands.

An unsigned six-page submission to the government says the intervention must work for the well-being of Solomon Islanders and not cause further division.

It says to this end the force must delay its arrival for up to four months to allow a full amnesty for ex-militants.

It also says it would be disastrous to take action against any police officer and they should all receive impunity and guaranteed tenure.

The submission says without these elements chaos will ensue.

Who compiled the submission is not yet known.

There have been earlier calls for amnesty while the former Malaitan militants have voiced reservations.

And at the weekend, the prime minister Sir Allen Kemakeza, said the force would not be considering past crimes.